Chronological Tour: Stop 347

Downtown Baseball for Columbus

Home plate entrance to Huntington Park, Aug-2009.

If you’re not sure where you are, look above the luxury box level.

A view from behind the plate, only accessible to loge ticket holders.

Quick Facts: Rating: 4 baseballs
So is anything wrong with Huntington Park, the new downtown park that replaced Cooper Stadium as the home of Columbus baseball in 2009?

At first glance, there isn’t much. The designers created a very accessible space with great views from everywhere in the park, including windows to watch the game from the street a la San Francisco, and all sorts of ticketing options for groups to watch the game. The “batter’s eye” is even removable: it lowers when there’s no game in progress, so fans can walk up to center field and see the park.

In addition to the usual fan seats, there are luxury box areas along each baseline, a special premium area behind home plate, and party areas in both left and right field, including a building in left with premier restaurant facilities as well as special concession stands. The main stands are placed so that fans can easily see the game even as they order food.

I had a few gripes with the place, although they really don’t take much away from a tremendous facility. For one, there is no non-premium seating behind the plate. At many parks, even where they have premium seats behind the plate, there is a way for spectators to walk behind the plate and take a photo or linger for several batters. Not here. I had to cajole an usher to let me in to grab my usual behind-the-plate photo in the ninth inning (fortunately, it was a late afternoon game, so there was still sunshine then).

Another is the lack of a walk-around concourse. The way the city streets were laid out, the planners simply ran out of room. They bumped into Nationwide Boulevard (a street that had another name before the Nationwide Arena, home of the NHL Columbus Blue Jackets, was erected just a few blocks away), and that’s when they decided to put in the “windows” in right field for the Knothole Gang to watch the game.

A third is that instead of facing northeast, as most fields do, this park faces southeast. That makes left field an extremely difficult sun field in the late afternoon. Again, I’m sure this was largely due to space considerations in the block where the park is located.

Finally, and this is from a player’s standpoint, there is no separate bullpen here. A relief pitcher of my acquaintance told me, “When I was warming up the other night, I threw a pitch that bounced away and rolled down along the dugout. The umpire had to call Time while we retrieved the ball, just like in Little League.” It does make for a dangerous situation. But maybe that’s a bit old-timey, too, and perhaps that’s good. After all, the warm-up mound at Wrigley Field actually extends into fair territory.

In all, this is a great new park, and the game is presented nicely here. It just didn’t quite rise to the level of my absolute best Triple-A parks, although I might be in the minority when I say that.

Game # Date League Level Result
1007 Sun 9-Aug-2009 International AAA Buffalo 12, COLUMBUS 8
1348 Sat 23-Aug-2014 International AAA Indianapolis 9, COLUMBUS 2
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This page updated 23-Aug-2014